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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Making the Best of Back to School 2020

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic. What will classrooms look like this fall? How are teachers feeling about all the changes? How can educators, parents, and students all cope with overwhelm, communicate more effectively, and support one another?

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Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written by Peel District School Board Teacher-Librarian Jonelle St. Aubyn

When school ended on March 13th due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching as I knew it was about to change dramatically. We went from teaching and learning in classrooms to going completely online, with very little time to prepare. Teachers are resilient and we are the masters of making the best of challenging situations. Shifting gears, we were able to still provide quality programming online for staff and students and adjusted to our new reality. Although I didn’t mind having a virtual LLC, I really missed my students. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye in person to graduating students that had volunteered with me for years. I didn’t get to hug coll …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Teachers, Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourselves

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic. What will classrooms look like this fall? How are teachers feeling about all the changes? How can educators, parents, and students all cope with overwhelm, communicate more effectively, and support one another?

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written by Peel District School Board Teacher Librarian Allison Hall

This summer has not been as per usual: a time to rest, reflect, and plan for the upcoming school year. As an avid reader of historical plague novels, it all seemed so interesting, until it was actually happening to me. When you mix a penchant for information with a tendency for anxiousness, the results are not ideal. My usual inner, calming myself down dialogue is no longer relevant:

World: Presents a perceived anxiety inducing situation.
Me: Stay calm. Be rational about this. Think about the facts.
World: There’s a pandemic racing across the globe.
Me: ....

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: On Reopening Schools Without Libraries

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic. What will classrooms look like this fall? How are teachers feeling about all the changes? How can educators, parents, and students all cope with overwhelm, communicate more effectively, and support one another?

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written by York Region District School Board Teacher-Librarian Jennifer Byrne

We’ve waited so long for some sense of a return to normalcy. Now, with schools on the cusp of reopening, they do so under the rightful scrutiny of anxious families, teachers, and school staff. There are many rules and guidelines, and it seems more Do Not’s than Do’s. Not to mention the worries and questions! Is it safe? Will kids get sick? Will my kids get sick? Will I get sick? Will I get someone in my family sick? These questions keep me up at night.

But one question I haven’t considered until it was asked of me for the purpose of this post:

How am I feeling? As I write this, I have the privilege of staring out at a lake as two loons glide by w …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic.

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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This is the third pair in a series of interviews with a host of Forest of Reading authors interviewed by Erika MacNeil, Teacher-Librarian at Rogers PS in Newmarket, ON (York Region District School board). Catch up with the first pair, featuring Vicki Grant and Kevin Sylvester, and the second pair, featuring Deborah Ellis and Richard Scrimger.

During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, books can sometimes be our only companions as the days stretch before us, looping in a Groundhog Day cycle of repetition. Take comfort knowing that creative endeavours such as reading are the brain’s brilliant means of maintaining its elasticity and responsiveness, because imagination accesses both the linear and emotional landscape of experience.

I decided to combine Shari Green and Caroline Pignat’s interview responses because I love how they are both in caregiving professions, Caroline being an English teacher of Irish descent residi …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Eric Walters' New Book Explores the "Now Normal"

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic.

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Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written, published and released during a pandemic: Eric Walters defies traditional publishing norms to create a book for young people living through the COVID-19 era. Don’t Stand So Close to Me, a middle-grade novel about a group of preteens forced into isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, is now available from Orca Book Publishers.

Read more about the book and download the free accompanying teacher’s guide.

Please enjoy this interview with Eric Walters, written by York Region District School Board Teacher-Librarian Geoffrey Ruggero.

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When dealing with an unprecedented time in their lives, where do teachers, parents, and students turn when they need someone to share their experiences? An author, of course. But not j …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: A New Way to Celebrate the Forest of Reading

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic.

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written by York Region District School Board Teacher-Librarian Jennifer Byrne

Forest of Reading is Canada’s largest recreational reading program, celebrating Canadian books and authors. In the eyes of Canadian kids, it is the ultimate expression of student voice, as they have all the power in determining the winners. For many students, the Forest of Reading program is a highlight of their school year. Our school is no exception. From the moment students first begin visiting our school library in September, they are already asking, “When do we get to be judges?” “When do we get to vote?” In our library, we typically don’t begin Forest of Reading until after we return from the Winter break, so to see the excitement in students as early as September, is something special.

Many schools and public libraries choose to run the Forest program in different ways as educators have the freedom to integrate it into library and classroom …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Time to Slow Down, with Deborah Ellis & Richard Scrimger

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic.

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

***

This is the second pair in a series of interviews with a host of Forest of Reading authors interviewed by Erika MacNeil, Teacher-Librarian at Rogers PS in Newmarket, ON (York Region District School board). Catch up with the first pair, featuring Vicki Grant and Kevin Sylvester.

I met Deborah Ellis back in 1998 when she had just returned from one of many trips to Afghanistan where she was doing research for The Breadwinner. She came to share her experiences and I was struck with her fierce determination to carve a story that was both authentic and readable to as many readers as she could reach. Deborah’s extraordinary novels such as Looking For X and I Am A Taxi take a hard look at a variety of social justice issues, and the human condition is always at the heart of her storytelling.

I met Richard Scrimger when he came to my school for an author visit. Richard’s books have been nominated many times over for various awards (Zomboy, Th …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Personal Picks from Your Local Librarian

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers and librarians are coping with the pandemic.

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Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written by Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

It has now been over eight weeks since my public library closed its physical doors—but our virtual doors are always open. I’ve found some of the connection that I was pining for in my last post by working on our online book and reader matchmaker service called Personal Picks. Families write in asking for book suggestions, and I’ve been having a ball sending email letter replies and chatting about books. 

I’ve always loved writing letters, from formal thank you cards, to notes scribbled on ripped-out binder paper passed around in class, to fan mail (Timothy Findley and Carol Shields wrote me back!). I gleefully collected pen pals the way other kids collected puffy stickers. When I think about it, writing a letter is like telling a story—you play around with ways to hold a reader’s attention, and figure out form and tone of voice. My …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Writing in the Time of Corona, with Vicki Grant & Kevin Sylvester

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic.

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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This is the first pair in a series of eight interviews with a host of Forest of Reading authors interviewed by Erika MacNeil, Teacher-Librarian at Rogers PS in Newmarket, ON (York Region District School board).

I love running the Forest of Reading Program with my students, not only because it celebrates Canadian authors, but also because those same Canadian authors are so accessible and approachable. They truly love and appreciate their readers and are happy to share their creative process as much as we love reading their books.

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 1.36.54 PM

I met Vicki Grant when she came to my school for an author visit to help promote the Secrets series in 2015. We became friends across the distance when she returned home to Nova Scotia. She has been …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Mental Wellness, E-Learning, and Doing Our Best

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic.

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written by Peel District School Board Teacher Toni Duval

My last day at work was Friday, March 13, 2020. At that time we didn’t know our March Break would become Emergency Distance Learning. As a Teacher Librarian I didn’t know I should pull every amazing read aloud I could off my shelves and stuff them in my van. I didn’t know the impact that COVID-19 would have on my family, my staff and my students.

Here’s what I do know:

FAMILY

Throughout March Break my anxiety began to rise as the impact of COVID-19 on our lives began to sink in. Prime Minister Trudeau held a press conference everyday, and no matter how calm and reassuring he was I could not stop the feelings of being overwhelmed and sad, the knot in my neck growing tighter everyday. I read an article about how many of our feelings were in part due to grief, for the things we were losing (like return to work, our regular routines, visiting family and friends). This made sense …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: How are Public Libraries & Librarians Responding to the Crisis?

Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a blog series that looks at how educators and librarians are coping with the pandemic.

Sign up to get new Teacher Diary posts in your inbox as they’re published.

Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written by Linda Ludke, librarian, London Public Library

It has now been over a month since my public library closed. I’ve tried several times to write this post, but my thoughts keep jumping all around as the ever-changing realities of this new world continue to sink in. My attention span is at a low, and I’m a jingly, jangly mass of misspent energy. I certainly haven’t learned a new language, taken up a long-neglected hobby, or baked bread; but I did take a shower today and can remember what day of the week it is, so I’m celebrating small victories.

One of the things I’m trying to grapple with is how much we are affected when we can no longer connect in person. Public libraries are all about community, accessibility, and engagement. Inside our walls we share not only books, but ideas, conversations, technology, resources, support, programs, information, and a public space that is freely welcome to all.

Ever since our …

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Three Middle Grade Novels to Nurture Student Connection

Welcome to the fourth post in the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a new blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic.

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Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written by York Region District School Board Teacher-Librarian Geoffrey Ruggero

If you’re looking for middle grade reads with strong, inspirational, female protagonists, then pick up any one of these absorbing novels by Michelle Kadarusman. She combines her intimate knowledge of places she has called home, with elements of art and nature, and the difficulties of growing up, to create stories that create a connection between reader and character.

Whether sneaking around a quiet library, dealing with the hustle and bustle of a big city market, or standing in the depths of a jungle, Kadarusman’s intense attention to detail makes the reader feel as though they are immersed in the setting. Students will be swept away to different parts of the world in each of her novels, and they will no doubt look to make deeper connections to the learning that comes with reading her books.

During a time when teachers are looking f …

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